cover image Escape Orbit

Escape Orbit

Patrick Chiles. Baen, $18 trade paper (352p) ISBN 978-1-982192-54-9

Chiles couches a high-stakes rescue mission in a fascinating and believable methodology for traversing space in this sequel to Frozen Orbit. Astronaut Jack Templeton and sentient ship AI Daisy reach the position of the hypothesized Planet Nine, only to discover something far stranger than a rogue planet: “a concentration of dark matter.” Though part of a series, this outing’s self-contained plot and interwoven backstory is easy for new readers to follow as mission control on Earth reacts to the reappearance of Jack’s ship at Planet Nine after disappearing from their radar five years prior. Jack’s former crewmates, Traci and Roy, immediately push for a rescue mission to extract Jack from a ship running dangerously low on supplies, but political red tape and maneuvering keep them grounded as their private space flight company clashes with the government. Much of this space opera’s enjoyment stems from Chiles’s use of convincing science; he doesn’t shy away from the inconvenient realities of space exploration, depicting the muscle wasting caused by extended torpor, the risks of rebreathing one’s own oxygen, and the travel times required to traverse space when Traci bets everything on a last-ditch effort to save Jack. This is sure to impress sci-fi fans. (Apr.)